Kobe Bryant's amazing conundrum

Kobe Bryant has been in full control of his game, but he'll have to cede some of that now. Richard Mackson/US Presswire

Should we be surprised by what Kobe Bryant does anymore?

Think about the circumstances. Let's start with the fact that Bryant is 34 years old and has logged more than 50,000 minutes on his basketball odometer. Then throw in the circus that brought a melodramatic, fit-for-Hollywood coaching change and a learning curve that comes with establishing two vastly different offenses.

Then you look at the surrounding personnel. Bryant is playing next to two centers -- a new one with a balky back and an old one mired in a constant state of confusion. Darius Morris, he of a 7.2 career player efficiency rating, is his starting point guard -- his third one of the season. And to make matters worse, Bryant just played through a nasty flu that made him look like this before Wednesday's tipoff against the Pacers.

And yet, through it all, Kobe Bryant is off to the most efficient season of his 16-year career. Really.